Michael Leigh’s practice focuses on complex civil litigation, wealth and investment management litigation, and white collar criminal defense. He represents publicly traded and privately held companies in corporate governance, securities, and commercial litigation, and advises companies and individuals in internal corporate and regulatory investigations.
Mr. Leigh has represented Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies in internal and regulatory investigations involving a wide variety of issues, including embezzlement; fraud; restatement of company financials and SEC filings; foreign corruption and bribery, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA); commercial bribery; and unauthorized access to telecommunications and computer systems. He has represented clients in investigations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Congress, and various U.S. Attorney offices and state attorneys general offices.
Mr. Leigh routinely represents broker-dealers and financial advisors in Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitrations and investigations. He also represents registered investment advisers (RIAs) in securities compliance, disclosure requirements, and state and federal audits and investigations.
Mr. Leigh also represents individuals, boards, and companies in class and derivative actions, fiduciary duty litigation, M&A litigation, trade secrets litigation, and consumer class actions. He has represented numerous clients in contract and commercial disputes, in particular disputes involving financial products and transactions.
Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Leigh was an associate and partner at the large regional law firm Stites & Harbison PLLC (2015-2018). He also was an associate (2010-2014) at the international law firm Debevoise and Plimpton LLP in New York. Mr. Leigh served from 2013-2014 as a Special Assistant Federal Defender in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York where he was court-appointed counsel for criminal defendants.
Areas Of Practice
- Appellate & Constitutional Law
- Complex Commercial & Business Litigation
- Class Action
- Arbitration & Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Securities & Wealth Management Litigation & Arbitration
- Corporate Law
- Fiduciary Duty & Corporate Governance Litigation
- Government Relations & Investigations
- Managed Care Litigation
- New York
- United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
- United States District Court for the District of Colorado
- United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
- United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
- United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
- United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York
- United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
- United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
- New York Law School, New York, New York
- J.D. - 2010
- Honors: magna cum laude
- University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
- B.S. - 2007
- Major: Political Science
- Won partial summary judgment in putative nationwide class action alleging cost of insurance rates had improperly been raised, defeating class certification of those claims. Advance Trust Life & Escrow Services, LTA v. Security Life of Denver Insurance Company, 2021 WL 62339 (D. Colo. Jan. 6, 2021).
- Won dismissal with prejudice of fraud, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and other claims related to vehicle service contracts and reinsurance agreements, and successfully defended the dismissal on appeal. Craig & Landreth Cars, Inc. et al. v. Protective Life Corporation et al., 2021 WL 1431870 (Ky. Ct. App. April 16, 2021).
- Won summary judgment defeating breach of contract and breach of consumer fraud claims related to variable annuity contract. Patel v. Venerable Ins. & Ann. Co. et al., Case No. 2:20-cv-3226, 2021 WL 3828832 (D.N.J. Aug. 8, 2021).
- Won dismissal of federal fraud, gross negligence, and breach of contract litigation involving a complex commodities options and futures trading strategy.
- Regularly represents major financial institutions and registered representatives in FINRA arbitration proceedings and FINRA investigations.
- Advises registered investment advisory firms on issues of federal and state securities laws, including the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and related state investment adviser laws.
- Won dismissal of $35 million fraud and fiduciary duty lawsuit for lack of personal jurisdiction in New York state court. MHS Capital LLC v. Goggin et al., Case No. 652956/2015 (N.Y. Supreme Court, Commercial Division, New York County, May 2, 2017).
- Won dismissal on merits of $35 million fraud, fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets lawsuit. MHS Capital LLC v. Goggin et al., Case No. 2017-0449-SG, 2018 WL 2149718 (Del. Ch. May 10, 2018).
- Won summary judgment as to all class claims in multistate federal court class action litigation concerning fixed-index annuities (FIAs). Abbit v. ING USA Annuity & Life Ins. Co., 252 F. Supp. 3d 999 (S.D. Cal. 2017); Abbit v. ING USA Annuity & Life Ins. Co., 2016 WL 4542204, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117630 (S.D. Cal., Case No. 3:13-cv-02310, Aug. 20, 2016). Add appeal and move up?
- Counsel to former Hertz CFO in successfully dismissing shareholder securities lawsuit in New Jersey federal district court. Ramirez v. Hertz Global holdings, Inc., 2:13-cv-7050 (D.N.J. Oct. 8, 2014).
- Counsel to private equity purchaser in securing summary judgment against shareholder class action lawsuit alleging aiding and abetting violations of fiduciary duties in $1.9 billion going-private merger. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority v. Volgenau et al., 2013 Del. Ch. Lexis 197, 2013 WL 4009193 (Del. Ch., C.A. No. 6354-VCN, Aug. 5, 2013), aff’d 91 A. 3d 562 (Del. 2014).
- Counsel to major financial services company in securing dismissal of shareholder class action lawsuit alleging breach of fiduciary duties in $5.7 billion going-private merger. Edelman v. Protective Life Corporation et al., No. 01-Civ-2014-90247400 (Ala. Cir. Ct. Jeff. Co. Sept. 19, 2014).
- Represented major payment processing company in parallel Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and U.S. Attorney Office investigations into embezzlement of company funds by employees, and falsification of company financial and other records. Conducted internal investigation at company, managed subpoena response, and assisted company with restating SEC filings and negotiating settlements with wrongdoers.
- Counseled independent directors of worldwide media company in connection with parallel U.S. Department of Justice and U.K. Ministry of Justice investigations involving Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other civil and criminal statutes.
- Won summary judgment in defamation lawsuit in federal court. Boda v. Phelan et al., 2014 U.S. Dist. Lexis 104955, 2014 WL 3756300 (E.D.N.Y., No. 11-Civ-28, July 30, 2014).
- Defeated defamation suit against client in state court. Lema v. Zumba et al., No. 57429/11 (N.Y. Civ. Ct. Sept. 25, 2012).
- Represented defendants in criminal cases and sentencing involving various federal crimes, including narcotics trafficking, firearms, robbery, kidnapping, embezzlement, and illegal entry, among others.
- Represented plaintiffs in federal environmental litigation raising claims under Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
Honors and Awards
- Kentucky Super Lawyers – Rising Star (2018-present)
Professional Associations and Memberships
- American Bar Association
- Kentucky Bar Association
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Louisville Committee on Foreign Relations
- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the River Region, Board of Directors (2015-2019)
- Lakeside Corporation, Board of Directors (2017-2020), President (2018-2020)